Gift Guide: 7 Best Books About Bitcoin and Blockchain

In 2021, crypto has gone more mainstream than ever before, and there’s now a growing library of books exploring Bitcoin and blockchain tech for the legions of crypto-curious.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Decrypt‘s staff has rounded up our favorites for your edification. (For those in the U.S.: Click the book title to buy independent through

Digital Gold, by Nathaniel Popper
Digital Gold, by Nathaniel Popper

We may still not know exactly who the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto is, but Digital Gold will teach you nearly everything else you’d want to know about the creation and early rise of the top cryptocurrency.

Nathaniel Popper’s book, last updated with a new epilogue in 2016, starts with the early interactions between Nakamoto and his far-flung collaborators and then tracks Bitcoin through iconic points of interest like the Mt. Gox exchange hack and illicit Silk Road marketplace takedown. It also chronicles the rise of major crypto players like Erik Voorhees and the Winklevoss twins, among others. If you already know Bitcoin’s more recent history pretty well, then this is a richly compelling way to fill in the earlier gap. —Andrew Hayward

The Infinite Machine, by Camila Russo
The Infinite Machine, by Camila Russo

Camila Russo, a former Bloomberg journalist who has gone on to become the “chiefess” of leading DeFi publication The Defiant, is the author of The Infinite Machine: the first book dedicated to the history of the Ethereum blockchain. What Digital Gold is for Bitcoin, The Infinite Machine is for Ethereum. Meticulously researched and expertly related, The Infinite Machine is the thrilling tale of Ethereum’s “army of crypto-hackers,” its eight founding members

Russo reveals how one of them, Charles Hoskinson, who went on to found Cardano, had a very different vision for Ethereum, and how Ethereum’s prime creator Vitalik Buterin—only 20 years old at the time—made the fateful decisions that would determine the future of a platform that is now worth over $400 billion. Russo deftly covers Ethereum’s founding, feuds, hair-raising hacks, and hard forks, as well as its phenomenal growth and role in the future of the Internet—making The Infinite Machine required reading for any Ethereum or DeFi enthusiast. And it’s heading to the silver screen soon—a film adaptation has been announced, which will be financed with sales of NFTs. —Adriana Hamacher

Bubble or Revolution? by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe and Parth Detroja
Bubble or Revolution? by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe and Parth Detroja

If you are completely new to blockchain and cryptocurrency, then this is the book for you. I speak from experience: when I first started exploring the industry, Bubble or Revolution helped crystalize some very complex concepts in an approachable, easy-to-understand manner.

It’s an ideal first step in your personal crypto education, starting with the creation of Bitcoin and the fundamentals and use cases of blockchain technology, while also providing a basic understanding of altcoins, crypto-economics, and growing business adoption. The three authors have backgrounds at Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, but deftly avoid getting bogged down in jargon or overly technical explanations. —Andrew Hayward

Bitcoin Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich
Bitcoin Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich

The follow-up to Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires, which chronicled the genesis of Facebook, Bitcoin Billionaires picks up with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss winning a multi-million-dollar settlement from Facebook and embarking on a new venture: investing in this crazy new thing called Bitcoin. Along the way, Mezrich charts the growth of the cryptocurrency space, from the rag-tag cypherpunks and libertarians drawn to Bitcoin in its early days, to the suited-and-booted bankers and investors seeking to lay down a veneer of respectability atop crypto’s anarchic subculture.

[WATCH: Ben Mezrich talks to Decrypt about his new book about Reddit and GameStop]

The book is not without its flaws. The quick prose seems to have been written with one eye on the inevitable film adaptation. There are endless scenes at yacht parties and Ibiza clubs in which people deliver leaden lumps of exposition to the strains of a thumping EDM beat. And it’s a little tricky to identify with the multimillionaire Winklevoss twins’ quest to become billionaires, yet the author’s treatment of the protagonists is extremely friendly. The Accidental Billionaires was undeniably a more compelling underdog narrative, and Zuckerberg a more interestingly flawed protagonist. Still, it zips along, and it’s an interesting look at the growing pains of the cryptocurrency industry as it matures. —Stephen Graves 

Out of the Ether, by Matthew Leising
Out of the Ether, by Matthew Leising

Out of the Ether pulls double duty as a book about Ethereum. On one hand, it follows the creation of the network, as Vitalik Buterin takes his bright idea from concept to execution with a diverse band of allies—and the fights and personality conflicts are well detailed, thanks to interviews with many co-founders.

But it’s also about the monumental 2016 hack of The DAO, the biggest ETH project of its era and the reason why the modern-day Ethereum forked away from what is now Ethereum Classic. The way it alternates between the two narratives doesn’t really benefit either story, but still, there’s a lot to glean about Ethereum’s origins and the existential threat that could have derailed its future. —Andrew Hayward


6.The Sovereign Individual, James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age, by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg
The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age, by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg

Written in the late 1990s, this guide to the then-nascent information revolution is extraordinarily prescient in some respects. It predicts, among other things, the birth of “cybercurrencies,” the political rise of charismatic demagogues around the world, and the emergence of state and non-state “cybersoldiers” who deploy “logic bombs” to attack infrastructure. The book’s central thesis is that the technology of the Internet and decentralized digital money will bring about a paradigm shift, as individuals move their assets into the digital realm, beyond the reach of the taxman. Starved of the ability to levy taxes, it argues, nation-states will fragment, with governments becoming, effectively, service providers to this new elite.

If that all sounds a bit apocalyptic, you’d be right. Davidson and Rees-Mogg argue that the old certainty of technology being a great leveler is about to come to an end; the new wave of technology, they say, will widen the wealth gap and lead to the emergence of an “information elite” lording it over a mass of disaffected have-nots. No surprise, then, that the book is enthusiastically endorsed by globetrotting billionaires like PayPal founder Peter Thiel (who contributes a foreword). It’s also been seized on by the libertarian fringe of the crypto community, who’ve lapped up its message of decentralized technology breaking the power of big government. You can see echoes of its influence in crypto exchange Binance’s claims to be a decentralized company with no headquarters, flitting from one jurisdiction to another; in the ethos behind privacy coins such as Monero; and in the assertion by the president of crypto-friendly Estonia that states will become “providers of a ‘service pack'” to digital nomads.

Still, the book ultimately paints a bleak picture; a new Gilded Age in which a neo-aristocracy hoards the digital wealth while an “increasingly jingoistic and unpleasant” underclass becomes ever more restive. Even democracy itself is called into question, which begs the question: when Elon Musk proclaims himself “‘technoking… is he really joking? —Stephen Graves

Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street, by Jeff John Roberts
Kings of Crypto: One Startup’s Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street, by Jeff John Roberts

Please excuse the inclusion of this book by Decrypt’s own executive editor, but it surely belongs in the pantheon of crypto tomes. If Digital Gold is the definitive origin story of the first cryptocurrency, and Infinite Machine is the birth story of the blockchain that launched DeFi, Kings of Crypto is the equivalent for the first mainstream U.S. crypto company, Coinbase. Despite the legitimate complaints crypto purists take with what Coinbase has become today, it remains the closest thing to a household name in the industry, the service that “normies” are most likely to try when they decide they’re ready to buy some Bitcoin, and thus the best company through which to explain the rise of crypto.

Jeff Roberts’s book is the kind of business book that prompts clickbait listicles like “5 insider secrets from the early days of Coinbase” because every single anecdote is interesting and surprising. It’s also the kind of book Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong was subtweeting when he complained in August that, “Unfortunately a lot of narratives told by outsiders are wildly inaccurate or, worse, reveal their own biases.” Kings of Crypto is told by outsiders and former insiders, unbiased, and it concludes that Coinbase is a crypto success story. —Daniel Roberts


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London’s NFT Art Scene Thrives Even As Prestigious Frieze Fair Sits Out

Frieze Art Fair, one of London’s oldest and most prestigious art events, stumbled into the post-pandemic, post-Brexit world for its 2021 edition earlier this month.

Crammed in between two other major art fairs, Art Basel and Fiac Paris (all three were canceled last year due to the pandemic) from October 13-17, Frieze London was low on crowds compared to years past. Still, there was a palpable sense of optimism that in-person events would lure buyers with the promise of shiny in-season objets d’art.

Coronavirus be damned, I packed my Gucci hat and took off for London to see what all the hype was about.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have swept through the art world like a tsunami in recent months. The cryptographically unique tokens can be used to demonstrate proof of ownership over digital artwork, and with multi-million-dollar sales grabbing headlines, venerable institutions like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been quick to seize on the opportunity for cash. And vaunted London galleries like House of Fine Art and Unit London both ran physical NFT exhibitions this month.

But I was surprised to discover that the NFT boom appeared to have passed Frieze London by, with the main fair having very little to offer by way of crypto art. Instead, the fair was awash with stoic-looking paintings, dusty sculptures and art dealers with more botox than Egyptian mummies. Frieze this year felt like it always had.

At least Art Basel had Kenny Schachter’s NFTism booth—spun off from the recent London exhibition—which made Frieze London look distinctly behind the times, crammed with more third-tier paintings than a Sunday afternoon flea market.

The only hint of NFTs at the entire Frieze fair came in one pop-up space showcasing NFTs by the renowned British artist Damien Hirst. Using massive new OLED screens made by LG, the space became an immaculate setting for expensive digital wall art.

Hirst isn’t the only big artist to foray into NFTs, however, and London has become somewhat of a crypto art mecca in recent years; Frieze missed it.

Damien Hirst artwork
Damien Hirst’s installation provided the only hint of NFTs at Frieze London. Image: Edmund Sumner/DHAS

Beyond the fair

As always, young money tends to gravitate toward the new. Beyond Frieze, London has much to offer by way of digital art, buoyed by a younger cohort of artists, curators and advisors. NFTs and exciting new art and tech startups, investors, and accelerators are leading the way. Many artist-celebrities have also aped in, big time—including some rather unexpected and avant garde artists too.

The London-based a/political, founded by Andrei Tretyakov, has been nurturing a stable of artists to support some of the more radical possibilities within crypto.

One of them, the Russian maximalist performance artist Petr Davydtchenko, who studied at London’s RCA (and was made famous in the annals of Decrypt as the artist who ate a bat and turned the video into an NFT), is adopting blockchain and crypto as a means of disrupting the machinations of capital. Davydtchenko has released a new series via OpenSea of his new meal du jour: rats.

London has been an especially fertile ground for disruptive artists (and for rats), but it has also nurtured a number of curators who are harnessing new technologies to unsettle the art market. With major auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip’s all taking a stake in NFTs, this month has also included a number of sales by these powerhouse auctions.

NFT art by Osinachi
NFT art by Osinachi. Image: Dorian Batycka

Over at Somerset House, in a show facilitated by the auction house Christie’s and curator Daria Borisova, five works were displayed and offered by the Nigerian artist Osinachi for sale as NFTs. The works, styled after the paintings of David Hockney (not an NFT fan), consisted of colorful portraits made in Osinachi’s signature style, rendered in Microsoft Word—a refreshingly original take on natively digital art.

They were the first NFTs to be presented at 1:54, the annual fair celebrating contemporary African contemporary art, installed in a beautiful neoclassical building overlooking the banks of the Thames in central London. The five Osinachi works brought in £155,000 in sales, including fees.

The British Museum has also made its first foray into NFTs, selling 200 works by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai as digital postcards to accompany a solo show of the artist’s work in the museum’s venerated halls. The sale was brokered by LaCollection, a startup specializing in authenticating limited digital editions of certified artworks—digital twins that are being auctioned on SuperRare.

London’s art market has certainly taken note of these and other projects, with the Financial Times recently describing the city as “a crypto art capital,” dozens of artists and tech accelerators are now using it as a base to launch global, data-driven, web 3-inspired projects.

London’s art-tech startups

London is quickly becoming a hotbed for emerging art + tech startups, including Electric Artefacts, founded by Aleksandra Artamonovskaja, a London-based crypto and NFT studio and advisory firm.

Artamonovskaja told Decrypt that while the traditional art market may be shaky, perhaps Brexit and the pandemic has had a lot to do with digital art’s resurgence in re-connecting the British capital to global audiences and marketplaces.

“The pandemic facilitated the inevitable move towards digital technologies that the art world was reluctant to adapt to for many years,” she said. “London has always allowed innovative business to flourish.” Artamonovskaja pointed as an example to the work of London-based incubator Outlier Ventures, which is funding crypto projects including Cosmos, Brave and Boson Protocol.

Artamonovskaja also believes crypto and NFTs can be a force for good. To this end, she recently partnered with PETA on an NFT drop called Not From the Zoo, a series of 8,888 collectibles with rarity traits, the proceeds of which were donated to help at-risk animals in danger of exploitation.

Frieze London
Frieze London. Image: Dorian Batycka

London has also become a breeding ground for a number of interesting art collaborations that use Web 3 and blockchain to ease entry into the art market, which is normally sealed off by gatekeepers and elite galleries and curators. The technology behind some of these tools is being developed by startups associated with VCs like Fuelarts’ Denis Belkevich, who will host an accelerator for four art + tech start-ups on October28 , aimed at pairing crypto startups with the art world.

Political turbulence, Brexit, and COVID-19 turned investors’ interest towards crypto and made it a “more opportunistic” market, Belkevich said. Thanks to the growth of NFT assets, he added, “art strategists—top auction houses and dealers—have made a considerable investment contribution to the art + tech world during the pandemic.”

Belkevich singled out institutional and VC investors’ excitement towards the Masterworks art platform, which offers fractional ownership of art. It received a $110 million investment this fall in a series A funding round led by Left Lane Capital.

Among the projects Belkevich is working with is V-Art, a platform for digital art founded in Ukraine by IP lawyers, IT specialists, and artists. Its aim is to help gallerists and artists use blockchain to bridge the digital and physical art worlds, where immersive experience and rights management is often what determines success.

V-Art cofounder and CEO Anastasiia Gliebova believes that NFTs and blockchain technology have the power to disrupt the notoriously opaque art market for good. And London is ideally placed to capitalize on this, said Gliebova: “As one of the world’s great metropolises, London has a rich history as a financial, entrepreneurial and cultural epicenter bringing together diverse actors into a developed infrastructure and thereby fostering innovation.”

The city’s value proposition may have been “somewhat negatively affected by Brexit,” Gliebova added, but it’s only served to highlight the importance of the free flow of information, people and capital—the movement of which, “makes for a substantial part of what makes London special.” That goes double for the art market, “which is why NFTs and digital umbrellas bringing together various aspects of the industry—from artists to museums to galleries—is more important than ever before.”

Another London-noded art-tech firm, .ART, founded by Ulvi Kasimov, has also embraced crypto art. .ART’s new Digital Twin tool helps artists easily mint their artwork on-chain as NFTs. In addition, users register their .art names as ENS wallet names, allowing artists and curators the ability to integrate between marketplaces and wallets.

awards ceremony
NFT platform .ART sponsored the 6th Frieze London Digital Art Prize, won by Wondeur. Image: Dorian Batycka

During Frieze week in London, .ART sponsored the 6th edition of the Digital Art Prize, which went to Wondeur, a Toronto-based startup using AI to disrupt the traditional art market.

With everyone from celebrities to brands and major auction platforms aping in, NFTs and digital art clearly have a strong future in the British capital. It’s about time Frieze—and other art fairs like it—take notice.


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We Went to the ‘World’s First NFT Art Gallery’—It Was Just Like a Normal Gallery

In brief

  • There’s a physical gallery space for NFT art in New York City.
  • We checked it out, and here’s what we thought about it.

For the past few months, artists, collectors, and begrudging crypto journalists alike have been confronting the phenomenon of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These are unique digital assets on the blockchain: tokens that can be attached to any file (usually images and looped animations, like JPEGs and GIFs) and sold as proof of ownership.

The appeal is in the blockchain’s veneer of permanence—the sense that these transactions are publicly recorded—as well as artificial scarcity, which leverages our impulse toward exclusivity.

One of the critiques of NFTs and the “crypto art” they’ve enabled is that once you buy in, your options for actually enjoying the work are somewhat limited. You can either display your NFT through certain online marketplaces and platforms, or just let it sit in your wallet, content in the knowledge that everyone knows it’s verifiably yours.

For the past few weeks, a gallery called Superchief has been looking to remedy that problem with a dedicated physical exhibition space for NFTs (it claims to be the first of its kind). It’s a small-ish space south of Union Square in New York City, with a few screens on each wall. Its first show, “Season One Starter Pack,” features works from 300 different artists rotating in throughout the day. But what’s new about NFTs, from a tech perspective, isn’t the kind of thing you can put on display; take away that piece, and what you’re left with is underwhelming.

When my editor asked me to check out the show, I made a point of not reading up on it ahead of time. This was my first mistake: thanks to some hasty Googling, I initially ended up at Superchief’s main gallery, in SoHo, rather than the one for NFTs. But on my brief subway ride uptown, I imagined what sort of themes the exhibition might explore. Would it trace the relationship between physical and digital spaces? Would it reckon with the slippery realities of digital ownership?

Inside the Superchief NFT Art gallery in New York. Image: Decrypt
Inside the Superchief NFT art gallery in New York. Image: Decrypt

Surely these questions are part of the NFT bargain. Even before Napster, the internet was enabling an exchange of endlessly reproducible ideas: an entirely transient online ecosystem of words, sounds, and images, with a copy-and-paste function that made it explicit. NFTs portend a future where everything is tokenized, everything is one-of-one, and everything is for sale. 

It’s proved to be a powerful idea. The market for NFTs has exploded over the past few months, as crypto’s nouveau riche have poured millions into digital artworks and auction houses. Tweets have been auctioned off as NFTs; an NFT attached to Nyan Cat, a meme from the early 2010s, recently sold for nearly $600,000; and the electronic producer Jacques Greene made an NFT out of the publishing rights to a recent single. The splashiest moment for the market was the $69 million sale of an NFT-backed image by the digital artist Beeple, at Christie’s.

Nothing that interesting or novel was happening at Superchief. After spending just a few minutes with each of the wall-mounted screens, I felt ready to move on. Online images are defined by speed and ease of access; we’re used to spending a few seconds with an image before scrolling past it. The incongruity between the slowness of the gallery setting and the aesthetic quickness of these internet-native artworks made for a disorienting experience.

The problem is more with the fact of the exhibition than with the images themselves. ”Season One Starter Pack” features works from Alex Schaefer, Ghostshrimp, and plenty of other established visual artists and illustrators. Edward Zipco, who co-founded Superchief and runs the NFT space, told me that about 70% of the artists in the show have backgrounds in the traditional art world, and the other 30% are already entrenched in NFTs.

I was also annoyed to discover that the space is also essentially an ad for Blackdove, a company that sells glorified TV monitors as “digital canvases” for NFT artworks. One of the screens was accompanied by a QR code that I thought would link to some explanatory writing, but instead led to the Blackdove website.

It’s possible to understand NFTs as pure speculation. Detractors have argued that they’re entirely divorced from art, and that to spend millions on a JPEG file is to misunderstand what you’re paying for. Some have argued, even more cynically, that NFTs are being used as a vehicle for wash trading and money laundering. And who’s to say the most expensive NFTs aren’t just being traded back and forth by the same few collectors in an attempt to juice the market and sucker in more retail investors?

But NFTs didn’t commodify art, or pioneer collecting as a mode of money laundering. The question is whether crypto art will end up replicating existing structures, rather than creating new forms.

Maybe it’s not Superchief’s fault that the show doesn’t get at what’s actually interesting about NFTs. The potential of NFTs is in their capacity to shift how artists get paid, crowdfunding individual works and allowing for investments in fractional ownership.

This sort of thing is already happening on publishing platform Mirror, where the experimental writer Emily Segal raised money for an NFT-tied novel through a sale of ERC-20 tokens representing equity. NFT protocols can also allow creators to take a chunk of all secondary sales, creating a kind of persistent financial connection between the artist and the work—something that’s much rarer in the traditional market.

That connection is part of why Zipco is so interested in getting the word out about NFTs. “The fact that there is now a system that has sustainability built into it, that is about supporting artists long term—I think that’s huge,” he said.

The current hype around NFTs isn’t entirely representative of what they can do. Crypto art and associated protocols aren’t just about selling JPEGs, but they are definitely on some level about selling JPEGs. In a gallery setting, it can be hard to see the bigger picture.


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BlockFi, Celsius, Nexo: What is The Best Crypto Savings Account?

In brief

  • Crypto savings accounts work like normal bank savings accounts, only you deposit cryptocurrency instead of fiat money.
  • Account holders earn a small percentage of interest over time—in exchange for handing over access to their crypto.
  • Some crypto savings accounts have a native token that provides holders with better interest rates, among other benefits.

The majority of cryptocurrency, when it’s bought, is left in online and offline wallets. But why leave it sitting there, inert? What if you wanted to make your cryptocurrency work for you, earning interest, just like fiat money in a bank account?

Good news: there are crypto savings accounts that do just that. So, what are they and what accounts are available?

What is a crypto savings account? 

With many fiat savings accounts earning less than 1% interest (or even 0.1%), many investors are looking to place their money elsewhere; crypto savings accounts are becoming a popular alternative.

Crypto savings accounts work like normal bank savings accounts, only you deposit cryptocurrency instead of fiat, earning a small percentage of interest over time. The companies offering the accounts make money in much the same way as a bank; they make loans of your cryptocurrency to other investors, such as trusted institutional and corporate borrowers. These Bitcoin lending services have exploded in the last year, with the top three firms growing their holdings by an average of 734%.

Comparing the number of users on each Bitcoin lending platform. Image: Decrypt.

It is important to note that there are sometimes restrictions or fees attached to withdrawals, with each company having its own rules. BlockFi, for instance, offers one free crypto withdrawal and one free stablecoin withdrawal per month; subsequent withdrawals may incur fees. Nexo and Celsius don’t charge fees for withdrawals.

Secondly, with crypto savings accounts, you will need to allow access to the cryptocurrency you hold; crypto placed in the account must be made available to lend to investors. This makes them different from crypto wallets, where the private keys to the cryptocurrency are always under the control of users. If you’re one of the many crypto users who advocate the philosophy that users should “be their own bank” rather than allowing centralized middlemen to control their money, handing over control of your keys may not be a sacrifice you’re willing to make.


BlockFi is a privately held US-based lending platform founded in 2017 by Zac Prince and Flori Marquez. It offers a straightforward way to hold a cryptocurrency account as well as making it easy to take out a loan. The company has a qualified team with backgrounds mostly in finance.

BlockFi core features

The BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) offers customers the ability to earn up to 8.6% APY with their cryptocurrency. Interest accrues daily and is paid monthly. There are no hidden fees and no minimum balances. In January 2021 it paid out a record $28 million in interest to its clients.

The company also offers the BlockFi trading platform, where customers can buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrencies at competitive prices and start earning interest the moment a trade is placed.

Unlike some of its competitors, BlockFi doesn’t have its own native crypto token. Instead, the focus is on providing a simple product with easy-to-understand terms.

BlockFi is also gearing up for the launch of its Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card, which offers account holders 1.5% cashback on every transaction made, paid into the holder’s BlockFi account. The card will launch in the US, with an annual fee of $200; a bonus of $250 in Bitcoin is available to early adopters who spend over $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

BlockFi security

BlockFi uses Gemini as a custodian to secure funds. It uses two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure accounts.

Withdrawal address Allowlisting is an optional, self-service security feature available to all BlockFi clients, and ensures that cryptocurrency in a BlockFi account can only be sent to known withdrawal addresses.

Celsius Network

Launched in 2018 by Alex Mashinsky and Daniel Leon, UK-based Celsius Network is a banking and financial services platform for cryptocurrency users, whose platform connects lenders to borrowers. Customers send coins to the platform to be lent to others and accrue interest. Cryptocurrency can also be put up as collateral for loans issued in US dollars.

Celsius core features

Celsius offers a savings account-style product where customers put money in, and the company uses that to lend to others while paying the customer interest. Interest rates can reach as much as 12% for certain cryptocurrencies. Account-holders can deposit as little as $5 and earn interest on it. There are no withdrawal fees, so customers can access funds at any time without being penalized.

The company offers loans in dollar-pegged stablecoins against crypto holdings in their wallets, with annual interest rates starting at 1%; the minimum threshold for borrowing was recently lowered from $1,000 to $500.

Celsius also offers a product called CelPay, which lets customers send and receive crypto for free.

Celsius CEL tokens

Celsius has an in-app utility token called CEL, which gives users extra benefits such as better interest rates, priority status and community membership. Users who claim their rewards in CEL can receive extra rewards up to a claimed 30% over non-CEL rewards; they also benefit from lower interest rates when interest is paid in CEL. Rewards tiers are based on the proportion of holdings that are held in CEL tokens.

Celsius security

Celsius has implemented security measures including two-factor authentication and whitelisted withdrawal addresses to protect customers’ accounts from being accessed by others.

Other measures include cold storage of unused funds and multi-signature authentication. This last measure requires multiple people within an organization to sign transactions on transfers of funds in order to avoid one person acting maliciously.


Nexo is a European crypto loans and savings platform, co-founded by Antoni Trenchev, Georgi Shulev, and Kosta Kantchev. Launched in 2018, it enables users to borrow or earn interest on their crypto assets. It has over $4 billion in assets under management. 

Nexo core features

Nexo provides users with a crypto bank account. Users can earn up to 10% interest on their crypto holdings. Interest earned is automatically paid into an account holder’s savings wallet. 

Nexo bank account offers users instant crypto credit lines, who can then borrow against their digital assets. Nexo is also one of the first to provide a crypto debit card, powered by Mastercard.

NEXO tokens

The NEXO token is a dividend-paying asset-backed token, initially distributed to users through an airdrop and ICO. Nexo users who hold NEXO receive benefits such as higher APY on their crypto holdings and dividends on Nexo profits, paid in the currency of their choice. In August 2020, Nexo paid out over $6.1 million in dividends to NEXO holders staking their tokens, versus $2.4 million the previous year.

Users can also repay loans in NEXO, receiving lower interest rates. Earnings and interest rates are based on the proportion of NEXO held in the user’s portfolio.

Nexo security 

Nexo offers cold storage in Class III vaults through BitGo, a SOC2 Type 2 certified cryptocurrency custodian. It also offers two-factor authentication. Its information security management systems are ISO/IEC 27001:2013 compliance audited by CISQ, a member of IQNet and the world’s largest provider of management system certification.

In February 2021, Nexo added security infrastructure in the form of Ledger’s institutional-grade security system, Ledger Vault, backed by $1 billion in crime insurance.


There’s a plethora of options for crypto accounts, ranging from the provider you choose to the additional offers—such as native token rewards and crypto cards—you can take advantage of. Ultimately, your choice comes down to what you’re looking for from your account.

If you’re likely to make a lot of withdrawals, for instance, BlockFi’s single free withdrawal (and subsequent fees) make it a less attractive prospect than its rivals.

If you’re enticed by the prospect of a crypto credit or debit card, and its attendant rewards, that puts Celsius Network out of the running. If you don’t mind stockpiling a native token, then you might be lured by the attractive rewards offered by Celsius Network and Nexo for holding their respective tokens.

Security-conscious users, meanwhile, may find BlockFi’s Allowlisting feature and Celsius’ whitelisting offers additional peace of mind.


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Binance Card Review: Is This The Ultimate Crypto Card?

In brief

  • The Binance Card is a Visa debit card enabling users to draw on their Binance crypto holdings.
  • It converts crypto into fiat at the point of sale.
  • Binance Card supports payment using Bitcoin, Binance Coin, Ethereum, SXP and BUSD.

In the last year, crypto debit cards have taken off in a big way, with numerous exchanges launching cards that variously let you pay with crypto, or offer crypto rewards.

Now Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has joined the fray. But is its new Binance Card the gateway to crypto that it promises to be? We put it through its paces.

What is the Binance Card?

The Binance Card is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a crypto debit card launched by Binance. Announced last March following the exchange’s acquisition of crypto debit card company Swipe, the Binance Card was released in select European countries in September 2020.

The card supports payments with Bitcoin (BTC), Binance Coin (BNB), Ethereum (ETH), Swipe’s SXP token, and its own stablecoin, Binance USD (BUSD).

Crypto holdings are converted to fiat currency in real-time at the time of transaction; you also have the option of topping up your Binance fiat wallet with your default fiat currency and drawing on that.

As a Visa debit card, the Binance Card can be used at over 60 million merchants across 200 regions and territories around the world.

When announced, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, more commonly known as CZ, stated that “Giving users the ability to convert and spend their crypto directly with merchants around the world, will make the crypto experience more seamless and applicable.”

That all sounds like it makes sense, right? A fancy card from a top exchange, spreading crypto to the masses in an easily accessible way — what’s not to love?

We spent some time diving into the Binance Card to see what the process is like, and what it brings to the table. Read on for our full review…

How easy is it to apply for?

Applying for the Binance Card begins by ordering one online directly from Binance. At the time of writing, the Binance card is currently supported in selected European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Malta, Slovenia, and more (the full list can be found here). Crypto fans in the UK who were originally on the list of supported countries can pre-order, but are currently absent from the official list, presumably due to the rather messy business of Brexit. We’ve reached out to Binance for confirmation and will update this article accordingly.

If you don’t already have a Binance account you’ll have to create one first, which is as straightforward as providing your email address and personal details. It is, however, worth pointing out that you can only apply for a Binance card if your account is KYC level 2 verified.

Short for Know Your Customer/Client, KYC is a procedure used in financial services to help verify the identity of individuals. In other words, it helps prove to Binance that you are who you say you are.

To achieve KYC level 2 on Binance, you’ll need to upload a form of valid ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, along with proof of address verification, such as a utility bill. This might seem scary to crypto beginners, but rest assured it’s totally normal practice, especially on an exchange that’s as respected as Binance.

Uploading these documents can be done by hovering over your profile button in the top right corner, and selecting ‘Identification’. Once that’s done, you’ll want to ensure that you take a clear picture of your chosen ID, as well as a passport-like photo of yourself. You also need to ensure that the address on your utility bill or other document matches the address you type into the online form. While the length of time it takes to verify both your ID and address varies, we were pleasantly surprised that both fields were verified in less than an hour.

Once you’ve reached KYC level 2, you can order your card here, by clicking on, you guessed it, Order Card. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete your order, and if successful, you’ll be issued with a virtual card immediately, while your physical card will arrive at a later date. At the time of writing, it’s unclear how long you’ll have to wait to receive the physical card due to high demand.

When you do receive your card, head on over to the Card Wallet section on Binance and hit the Activate button. From here you’ll need to enter the CVV number on the back of the physical card, and your four-digit pin code will then be shown. If you don’t activate your card within 45 days after ordering, it will automatically deactivate.


The Binance Card’s design is muted, but tasteful. Image: Binance

As much as we’d love to say that the Binance Card is crafted from exotic materials like titanium or meteorite, we’re dealing with the same sort of card you’ve used all your life, albeit one with flat (as opposed to embossed) characters, presumably for longevity.

There’s currently no option to customize the card or stamp any of your own personality on it, which is bad news for meme lovers. For everyone else though, there’s little to complain about. The all-black and silver monochrome color palette has an air of sophistication about it, with nothing but some text and the ultra-minimal Binance logo to draw the eye. If Darth Vader had a debit card, it would look fairly close to this.

Setting up the Binance Card

Once you’ve got your virtual and/or physical card set up and ready to go, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with how the card actually works. The most important thing you’ll need to understand is that the card doesn’t automatically pull in funds from your Binance crypto holdings balance.

To use the card, you’ll first have to transfer money from your Spot Wallet (the default Binance wallet which stores your holdings and allows you to deposit and withdraw funds), to your separate Card Wallet. You can choose to transfer fiat and other supported crypto over to your Card Wallet, and select the order in which funds should be debited first. If you’ve listed Euros and BNB as the top two funds, for example, the card will debit your Euro balance, before moving on to BNB once the Euros are used up.

The Card Wallet is best thought of as a supplementary place for your holdings to live. Shifting funds over might seem like an unnecessary step for some, but it provides the option to limit how much is on the card, in the event that it’s lost or stolen. The ability to prioritize which holdings are spent first is also a nice touch.

Binance Card Wallet. Image: Binance

Once you’ve put your Card Wallet in order, you can spend it anywhere online or in-person that accepts Visa. Just make sure you’ve taken the time to top up the Card Wallet with funds from your main Binance wallet, otherwise your payment will be declined, and you’ll find yourself explaining your mishap to a very confused grocery store cashier. To save yourself the headache, you have the handy option to enable auto top-up, setting a minimal balance that’s automatically topped up without you having to worry about it.

It’s also worth noting that Google Pay and Samsung Pay users can set up their card by entering their card details in their choice of app, letting them make contactless NFC payments with Binance funds up to set limits.

Perks and fees

One of the main draws of the Binance Card is its cashback system, which rewards your account with up to 8% cashback on eligible purchases. The cashback is in BNB, and the amount rewarded depends on how much BNB you’re currently holding on Binance. The breakdown of cashback rewards can be seen below:

Binance cashback rewards table. Image: Binance

You can see your cashback transactions in the cashback vault, all of which will be one of three statuses; Pending, which means they’re calculated but not yet in your wallet, Completed which means they’ve already been sent to your Spot Wallet, and Declined, which means the transaction was not eligible for cashback.

The cashback itself is awarded on a monthly basis, while some competitors offer weekly rewards. It’s also worth pointing out that the cashback percentage is based on your average holdings of BNB over the past month. This is disappointing, as it essentially means you have to wait and hold BNB for a whole month to unlock higher reward rates. On a more positive note, beyond the initial $15 issuance fee for the card itself, there are zero fees for monthly or annual card maintenance, which is a welcome bonus.

In terms of card limits, the virtual card currently has a daily spending limit of EUR 870, with a much higher limit of EUR 8,700 for the physical card. The daily ATM limit is capped at EUR 290. Additional fees for reissuing the physical card and for transaction fees, are shown below:

Binance fees table. Image: Binance

Is Binance Card worth using?

To reach the full 8% cashback reward on your purchases, you’ll need to have a minimum of 6,000 BNB in your Binance Wallet. At the time of writing, that’s just under $250,000 worth of BNB. Card level two, which unlocks 2% cashback, requires a more manageable stake of 10 BNB, or around $420.

These aren’t exactly friendly amounts for beginners dipping their toes into the crypto world for the very first time, but at least there’s still a 1% minimum cashback offer for people to benefit from using the card without forking out hundreds of dollars on BNB.

What is disappointing is the fact that the cashback rewards are tied only to BNB, which means someone with thousands of dollars worth of BTC, for example, won’t see any rewards.

If you’re heavily invested and committed to BNB, then the rewards appear to be worth it. It sounds niche, but so is the very concept of a crypto debit card tied to an exchange.


There’s a simple case to be made for the fact that the Binance Card doesn’t really need to exist. We don’t mean that in a harsh way. It is, after all, a slick card that integrates with the world’s biggest crypto exchange, and lets you use your holdings online and in the real world, making the blockchain more tangible and useful in everyday life.

The trouble is, you’re not ultimately paying for things with crypto. Your holdings are converted to fiat, so as far as the merchant is concerned, you’re just another normal user paying with ‘proper money’. This sort of goes against the whole ethos of being a crypto enthusiast, don’t you think?

The dream, of course, is for crypto to be natively accepted by merchants and shops at a fundamental level, with no middleman converting messing up the purity of it. That’s an adoption problem that not even the gargantuan exchange Binance can solve, so this card should at least be applauded for aiming for a transitional middle ground while increasing awareness of what’s possible with crypto.

Still, we’d only really recommend it for hardcore BNB fans looking to fill out their bags with the cashback rewards. Having said that, there’s no harm in nabbing one for yourself, especially with the lack of monthly fees. After all, one of crypto’s biggest draws is trying new things and pushing horizons. Perhaps cards like this are an important step to true mass adoption.

Rating: 4/5


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